After a long list of rants, some insults, and bit of belittling and a bit of degendering on PinkEssense, I drop my final line about the problem with passing. No one seems to be able to separate “Passing” from being trans, or being trans and looking cis. People still don’t get it after many long and well thought out reiterations. So here is my final response on this topic. To a degree I have been very frustrated with the fact that people have been unable to present a reasonable counter arguments, and really do little more than parrot “We need to pass to be safe”, while ignoring the “well some trans people don’t pass, what about them”? I don’t think the realize how ludicrous they sound, and perhaps they have never taken the time to challenge this concept. I wish I knew a better way to get the point across. I don’t do “On the Blog” amps often, but this is one I felt was worthy of one.
Looking cis isn’t the problem, getting transition therapy that happens to make you cis is also not a problem. You all seem intent on facilitating this philosophy, and I am sorry it’s wrong and I have due reason to call it. Passing is a form of oppression, one internalized to a great degree by transsexual people. Certainly, looking cis does shield you from scrutiny, and attack, but the discrimination that causes that scrutiny is the problem not one’s “conformity”. Passing is not real, it’s a cissexist notion that looking/being cis is the only valid, real or genuine state. To “pass” is to be read as cisgender, and if you want to know why I have an “axe to grind” over the notion of “Passing” then I’ll tell you. Because I have had friends and acquaintances commit suicide, or come close to it because of the fact that they “don’t pass”. Because not all trans people pass, nor should they be required to be to not be excluded, isolated or to otherwise not have their autonomy violated.
The way we get on a level playing field is by standing up against the concept that looking “cis” is the only valid way to be, and by getting laws to protect us, where those who can’t “pass” will still feel welcome, will not fret about how they look because their rights don’t hinge upon them. Passing hurts people because it makes an iniquitous standard that many people (trans and cis) can’t meet. I didn’t transition to look like a woman, I transitioned to be myself who also happens to be a woman. Holding to the “Need to Pass” idea hurts us by holding the person accountable for failing to conform to social standards, upholding those harmful concepts, that are standards which are unfair, unequal, and biased towards cisgender people, and the very narrow definition of what “cis” looks like. If you feel you are female, or male in a binary sense, then it’s okay to be that, and looking cis as a result of that journey is fine. I am not saying that no one should “Look Cis”, I am saying that no one should lay down that as the expectation.
Passing is part of the cissexist oppression of transgender and transsexual people everywhere, and it acts against those who can’t “pass”, those who are genderqueer, androgynous, butch, or otherwise by enforcing gender stereotypes. The thing you all seem to be failing to understand is that body integrity (the alleviation of gender dysphoria through transition) and gender expression (the way you express femininity, masculinity, or neither) are two totally different things. The treatment of gender dysphoria mandates (for many of us), that we attempt to completely conform our bodies in accordance with our gender identity, even if that makes us look cis. Looking cisgender is just a state of being, not an ideal. Even if I dress as a butch dyke, I’d still need transition therapies to feel complete as a person on a bodily level (from GRS, HRT, et cetera). All trans people should be free to look as they see fit without facing oppression for that (Cis or Trans), which passing attempts to usurp. Gender stereotypes act to oppress, passing is just part of that.
We shouldn’t have to live in fear of being assaulted, raped or murdered, nor should we be forced into isolation because of whether we look cis or trans, or of our capabilities or lack of capabilities to control that. It shouldn’t matter what we look like, we should all be treated equally. Cisnormativity acts as an argument for the status quo, and that is a big problem. Passing (the concept, not the state of looking cis) sustains the oppression we all face, and it oppresses trans people from the inside of our very own community. Gender Identity, Gender Expression, Sexual Orientation, and Sexual Behavior are all separate but interrelated traits of a persons being. And no, I am not alone in my beliefs (though so may seek to silence or make insular my position), if you read and researched this you’d realize I’m not alone. If you want to look cis, go for it. But don’t tell anyone else that they must look “cis” too, or isolate, insult, or belittle them because they don’t look cis, don’t believe in “passing”, or feel that passing is oppressive. Seeking to be yourself against gender adversity is admirable, and necessary.
I stand against the assertions of gender binaries, stereotypes, oppression, cissexism, and any force which act to keep trans* people down, and I do so because of both my own experiences, and because of the evidence. It is a cause I feel the utmost conviction to uphold.